This post is specifically for leaders.  Not just pastors- moms, dads, coaches, teachers, big brothers…if you lead anyone or anything, I’m talking to you.

My 4-year-old Elijah has had a little cough for the last week.  Nothing serious at all.  But of course, it’s waking him up a lot at night, his throat is starting to hurt, and now he’s not talking as much because his voice is so scratchy.

No parent likes to see their kids in pain- even when it’s a minor thing.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to watch your child suffer through a major illness.  If you’ve experienced that, I’m very sorry.  I would never want to come across like I’m comparing my son’s cold to a serious health issue.  But I want to share something simple God showed me through something as ordinary as a run of the mill, spring cold.

Elijah came up to me on about day 4 of the cold, hugged my leg, and said (in a pretty pitiful tone of voice, incidentally): “Daddy, my throat just keeps hurting and hurting…did you go to throat school?”

(This is a Furtick family inside joke.  When my kids complain about being hurt, I ask them where they hurt.  If they say it’s their nose, I tell them not to worry, because Daddy went to nose school.  Then I might wiggle their nose, maybe rub some lotion on it, blow on it, and otherwise treat the condition until they’re satisfied that it’s better.  I also went to ear school, knee school, tummy school…you’d be surprised how thoroughly educated I am.)

So I performed some standard throat school techniques on Elijah, but then decided we should pray together.  I mean, not that my throat school skills aren’t effective.  It’s just that, I was kind of getting sick of seeing my son being sick.  And something about how pitiful his eyes looked pushed me over the edge.  So I told him we were going to pray about it.  And we didn’t pray one of our typical: “Jesus, help me feel better” prayers.  We got downright Pentecostal.  I even got out my olive oil and commanded the sickness to leave my son’s body in Jesus’ name.  I told Elijah to thank God for his healing, and taught him a scripture to recite when he feels really bad.  I’m not sure how much he understood.  And I’m not even sure where you line up on how to pray for the sick theologically.

But I know this: while I was praying the most forceful prayer I knew how to pray for my child to feel better, I realized how important it is that I take my position as the covering of my household seriously.  The concept of a spiritual covering is a complicated, oft-abused, and somewhat obscure one for a lot of theological traditions, mine included.  I’m not even sure I understand all of the implications.  I do know this:

If God has made you a leader, He has empowered you to be a sort of spiritual covering for those you lead.  Are you covering them with integrity?  Prayer?  A good example?  Words of blessing?

Not just when they’re sick or in trouble…but are you covering their daily decisions?  Are you covering them with affirmation?  Wisdom?

It’s a humbling thing to realize God has placed you as a protective parameter over someone else.  And you have to keep this concept in context, because obviously, each of us has an individual accountability before God, so we can’t internalize the failures of others as our own.  And above all, we should never pervert this idea to serve our own purposes or manipulate others.

But you can’t get away from it- God calls those of us who are strong to defend the weak.  Those of us in positions of authority are commanded to diligently watch over those who look to us for insight and help.

You are someone’s covering.

Make sure you’ve got them covered well.